Just tell me what to do, please

(Photo by https://todaytesting.com) Two years ago, when I was deep into the writing/editing phase of my book, Beat Boredom, I received a very disheartening email from my editor. She said, basically: This isn’t what we want. Try again. You can image the emotional turbulence. I was frustrated. And angry. And exhausted.   And I wanted…

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What is a 3, anyway?

In the world of standards-based grading, a 3 means proficient. Does that means it’s kind of like a C? Or more like a B? Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. It does. It has to go in the gradebook. In late August, I wrote this post about my first foray into the world of proficiency-based…

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‘Cold-calling’ — done right — is an effective way to build classroom participation

Presenting in front of the class makes me uncomfortable. If the teacher calls on me, I tense up and can’t speak. Running in phy ed makes me self-conscious and ashamed. There are a lot of things we ask of students that they don’t want to do. Does that mean we should stop asking? Earlier this…

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Let’s do what works, not what’s easy

This week, I posted a new article to my blog at NeverBore.org about why critics denounce interactive teaching — and why they are wrong. I’ll be posting there once a month on topics related to my book, Beat Boredom, my curriculum products, and the topic of interactive teaching. I’ll continue to use this MarthaRush.org blog…

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Will later start times = more sleep? We’re going to find out.

Will a later start time help our high school students get more sleep, foster better academic performance and reduce rates of anxiety and depression? I think so. But a few weeks ago, I was championing our school’s new start times — the first bell now rings at 8:35 a.m. instead of 7:25 a.m. — and…

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Time to assess this new grading system

At my high school, we’ve changed our grading practices at least six times in recent memory. It all started with requiring common assessments and grading scales for each course. Then came a school-wide grading scale, with 93% for an A. Then we removed behavioral and other non-academic considerations from grades. That meant even truant (or…

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‘I don’t know this word’… Why student knowledge and context matter

My friend Mary, a bookseller in Chicago, told me I need to read Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover. Westover was was raised by American survivalists, and her story explains how she broke with her family’s extremist ideology and left home to seek her education, culminating in a Ph.D. from Cambridge. The part that stuck…

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Grit offers good – but not great – insights

I just finished reading Grit, and I have to say I’m disappointed. I know Angela Duckworth’s argument that passion and perseverance can overcome obstacles and lead to success has met with mixed reviews — especially from those who believe the focus on grit discounts the impact of poverty — and I have to say I…

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Relationships: Necessary but NOT sufficient for student learning

“They don’t care what you know until they know you care.” “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” “Great teachers focus not on compliance but on connections and relationships.” “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” It’s that time of year when the teacher-web is heating up with inspirational reminders that we have…

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Let’s stop emphasizing ‘nice’ for girls

What is your first response when someone makes an unreasonable request of you? Hell no! With all due respect, a firm no No, but… (feeling guilty) OK, I guess I’ll do it Be honest. Is it easy to stand up for yourself, or do you hem and haw and feel guilty later? This might surprise…

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